This summer, my wife and I took our kids on a family vacation to Disneyland in California. The Southern California weather, beaches and a trip to San Diego on Highway 1 made it an experience we'll never forget.
We are a beach family and we dream of one day living by the ocean. The California trip fueled an existing passion that's existed deep within us for some time. We want to watch more ocean sunsets than we can with a yearly week-long vacation to the beach. We take these trips each year and return home dreaming about living close to the ocean someday. We always say we're going to take steps to fulfill this dream – then, life happens. We get busy with the kids, work and whatnot. Our dream, while still present, becomes more and more distant.
But this time, it's different. We are committed to taking our dream to the next step. In fact, we have a checklist and a husband-and-wife agreement on our approach. We are going to take the next step of seriously looking into a move to Southern California. This would be a big change for a family of four in Texas. I know there are many reasons not to move, but there are also many reasons to move. In fact, for the time being, we've agreed to stop thinking and discussing the reasons why we should stay.
Since I'm not the kind of person who would jump into the car with wife, two kids, cat and dog and take off toward the sunset without a plan, we started a simple checklist of all the things we need to consider in our planning efforts.
- Location and housing
- Selling an existing home
- Getting settled
- Credit score
For us, employment is at the top of the checklist. Fortunately, I can perform my current job responsibilities from just about anywhere. However, I've already taken some initial steps to look into new opportunities with the same company via our internal career site. It would be best to move for company reasons versus personal reasons. Regardless, if no new opportunities present themselves in the next six months, my wife and I agree that I would contact my employer and inquire about a location transition.
Location and housing
Sorting out location and housing can be done in parallel with the employment step. We've already started searching for a location based on what we've learned about the area, but it is difficult to do this from long distance.
Our plan is to come up with a list of at least three to five areas in which we can evaluate the cost of living, location, recreation, school, church and ocean breeze options. We know we'll rent for at least the first year. As we learn more about Southern California and the area, perhaps we'll eventually buy.
Selling an existing home
Once the work situation has been figured out, we'll list our home and try to sell. In fact, our move would be contingent upon selling the house. We need to sell, cash out on our equity and use some of that money for the move (if it's not company sponsored). The remaining money would go into short-term savings and build back up for a future down payment. Based on the work situation, I would be open to traveling for work until the house sells. My wife and I discussed this and both agreed it would be fine to travel, should that be a work requirement, knowing it wouldn't be a permanent requirement going forward.
This is the one step on the checklist where I'm completely in the dark. However, after conducting a bit of research online I found a great recommendation to have three moving companies come to our house, perform a walk-through and estimate the cost of moving possessions across the country. I can't imagine this being anything less than an astronomical cost, but it's definitely one we'll have to face if we're serious about going forward with our dream. We also may try to minimize this cost by putting some items in storage. We figured our rental property, likely a condo, will be much smaller than our house today. So, we may try to store some furniture in Texas for a while, or even sell it before we move.
I know it requires a lot of work to get settled when you move to a new house in your existing city. There is a lot of work involved with moving across the country, but people do this all the time – it doesn't intimidate me. “Getting settled” involves finding all the services we're accustomed to having at home. We'll need to find a new church, doctors, dentists, schools, baby sitters, local grocery stores, learn the area and much more. Everything will change and we'll have to make a list of the most important things first. My estimate is that it will take a year to get settled. But that's part of the fun and experience of moving!
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Creating this initial checklist takes a load off our shoulders. It makes this dream real for us, and it helps my wife and me focus on one or two areas at a time without getting overwhelmed. I believe our biggest roadblock in the many years of returning home from the beach and letting our dream die has been us. We find too many excuses not to move forward in seeking a new and exciting experience for our family. At the end of it all, if we move and this is a big train wreck, my children will learn many things — two of which will be to follow your dreams and passions (with a plan), and don't be one of those people who always talks about doing something but never does it.
Have you ever moved to a new location or city? If so, what tips would you provide?